Posted by: Pastor Terry Hagedorn | June 19, 2009



Proverbs 1:8, “My son hear the instruction of thy father.”

Pastor Terry Kent Hagedorn (Retired), Calvary Baptist Church, Reedsville, WV

When I was fifteen (1965) I realized that my father was dumb. He had always been that way. It just had not been so apparent to me until I became a teenager. However, it was now becoming obnoxiously obvious to me that he was turning into THE dumbest man in the world! I am not exaggerating. It was a malignant condition. He kept getting worse. And, I kept getting more and more disgusted with his dumbness. It was a dreadful situation.

And, I had to live with him! It was almost more than I could bear. How could someone as suave, sophisticated, and sharp as me have EVER been born to this hillbilly? There must have been a mix-up at the hospital!

I was born the night of a 36 inch snowfall.  It was Friday.  We had no car.  We had no telephone. So, without consultation with the dumbest man in the world, my mother chose names from two of her favorite Sunday Comic characters: Terry, from “Terry and the Pirates”–a WWII fighter pilot, and Kent, from “Clark Kent: Superman”–mild-mannered writer. Those names were prophetic! I flew combat missions in Vietnam; AND, I am Super…well, a mild-mannered writer.

Dad did give me a nickname. “Doc” was his dumb nickname for me. He thought I looked like one of the Seven Dwarves as a baby. Guess which one. (Seriously, I am thankful for the name I was given for two reasons: 1) because my mother picked it out; and, 2) because it has kept me from taking myself too seriously. However, today I would have been proud to have been named for my Dad: Robert B. Hagedorn–The Dumbest Man in the World!)

Dad was always asking me dumb things: about my friends, about school, about homework, about high school sports, about my future plans. Then he would ask dumb things about my habits, activities, and associates.

So, he not only taught me how dumb he was–he taught me how dumb it is to work hard, to be honest, to be loyal, to love my family, to be a man and to fear God.

We weren’t saved—that is became born-again Christians–until the 1970’s; however, Mom and Dad were God fearing. At the time that Dad was suffering with his dumbness, I was an agnostic, atheist, open-minded, free thinker, radical hippie. I was too smart then to pay any attention to the “hicks from Dumbsville.”

However, it was at that time that Dad taught me the most memorable lesson. It was during the height of the hostilities between us. He was trying to make conversation with me at the breakfast table. He was asking more dumb questions like, “How are you? How’s school going?” He then said–or asked–something dumb like, “Doc, why won’t you talk to me? I love you. You’re my son.” Then he reached out his arm and placed it around my neck–to hug me. That was it! Actions speak louder than words! Dumb is AS dumb does!

“Dad, leave me alone! I’m sick of your dumb questions. Why don’t you just leave me alone? …I hate you…” the words slipped out of my mouth. I couldn’t believe that I said them. They echoed in my mind. I wished that I hadn’t said them; BUT, I couldn’t take them back! I was too dumb and too proud.

The words stabbed like a knife into my father’s chest. His face went deathly pale. He said nothing–dumb or otherwise. He quietly pushed away from the table and went to the other room.

“Terry Kent Hagedorn!” mom angrily said. (Mom didn’t have a nickname for me–dumb or otherwise. I knew what it meant when she used my full name.)

“You should never have said that. You’ve hurt your father’s feelings. You go and apologize to him right now!,” so said my mother–the second dumbest person in the world at that time.

I wish now that I had listened to her. In fact, I wish now that I had always listened to every dumb thing that Mom and Dad said to me! I would have been better off!

I said, “I will not! I’m glad that I hurt his feelings! Maybe now he’ll leave me alone! I am so sick of his dumb questions and actions that I can’t stand it anymore!”

Leave me alone–he did. He purposely avoided me. If I came into a room–he left. If he needed to speak to me, he relayed the message to me through my mother or sister. He found excuses to not eat at the table–with me. He ate before–or after–I did. He was not mean. He just acted cold.

At first, I loved it. Finally! I had my much coveted privacy. And, I did not have to put up with his dumbness.

This went on for about two blissful weeks. Then tragedy struck–someone else! One day in school, my friend David was called out into the hallway. The principal whispered something to him. David–also an agnostic, atheist, open-minded, free thinker, radical–began to cry. The teacher put her arm around him and walked him to the office. After class, I learned that David’s father, a meat cutter at a large grocery store, had suffered a massive heart attack and had died.

“What if that had been Dad,” I selfishly thought to myself.

I was not as smart as I thought! I hadn’t thought about this possibility–permanent freedom from the dumbest man in the world. My stone cold heart melted. Like the Prodigal, I came to myself. I knew what I needed to do. How to do it escaped me! My pride resisted tooth and nail. However, I determined to make things right–today!

As soon as I got home, I asked Mom, “Where’s Dad?”

She said, “In the basement.”

He saw me come down the stairs. He turned his back to me. I walked over to him and tapped him on his shoulder. He slowly turned and stoically asked, “What do you want?”

I said, “Dad, I am sorry for saying what I said. I don’t hate you. I love you. Please forgive me.”

He didn’t say a word–at first. He just hugged me…AND, for the first time in years I did not think it was so dumb.

He said, “Doc, I forgive you. I love you, too.”

The lesson that the dumbest man taught me was this: I might not always be in a loving fellowship with my father; but, I am always his son, he always loves me, and he is always ready to forgive me and restore full fellowship–if I confess my sin to him. Pretty good lesson for the dumbest man in the world! Huh?

(My father died March 17, 2008. I preached his funeral on Good Friday. Two precious souls trusted Christ as Savior in the service. I thank God everyday for my dumb father and the dumb things he taught me. I love you Dad.)


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